Updated from 4:17 p.m. EDT

Stocks closed mixed Tuesday, but the major averages didn't stray far from the levels at which they started the session.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

lost 9.44 points, or 0.09%, to 10,599.67, and the

S&P 500

fell 2.49 points, or 0.2%, to 1213.61. The

Nasdaq Composite

added 2.94 points, or 0.14%, to 2091.07. The 10-year Treasury was up 17/32 in price to yield 4.04%, and the dollar was higher against the euro and lower against the yen.

Volume on the

New York Stock Exchange

was 1.67 billion shares, with advancers and decliners virtually even. Volume on the Nasdaq was 1.56 billion shares, with advancers and decliners also matched.

"The market continues to consolidate after last week's gains," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist with Spencer Clarke LLC. "There's nothing out in the early part of this week to push stocks either way. Stocks have been driven higher by the expectation that the Fed is close to the end of its rate-hiking cycle, despite oil prices near $60."

Oil was lower, closing at $58.90 a barrel in Nymex trading, down 47 cents from Monday's close. The July contract reached a closing high Monday as prices continued to inch closer to the $60 level.

"With little economic news on the calendar, oil

was in focus again today," says Brian Williamson, equity trader with Boston Company Asset Management. "There was no news out there yesterday, and when oil closed, there wasn't anything else to focus on except an eight-day rally that was squashed earlier in the day because of energy. Fast money came in and bought the market late. Volumes were abysmal."

Stronger areas included technology, financials, semiconductors, drugs and airlines. Energy, materials, health care and banks were among the weaker sectors.

Tuesday's corporate news was dominated by mergers and acquisitions. Chinese appliance maker Qingdao Haier and private-equity funds Blackstone Group and Bain Capital have sent a preliminary proposal to acquire

Maytag

(MYG)

for $16 a share. The nonbinding offer may start a bidding war with an investor group led by Ripplewood Holdings, which agreed to acquire Maytag last month for $14 a share. Shares of Maytag added 83 cents, or 5.4%, to $16.06.

Also in M&A activity, China's state-run energy firm

CNOOC

(CEO) - Get Report

may start a bidding war in the oil sector by offering $71.50 a share for

Unocal

(UCL)

, according to

Bloomberg News

. If the offer is made, it would top

Chevron's

(CVX) - Get Report

offer of $62 a share made in April. Unocal rose $1.38, or 2.2%, to $64.85.

On the earnings front, homebuilder

Lennar

(LEN) - Get Report

reported second-quarter earnings of $1.55 a share, up from $1.42 a year ago. Lennar is now projecting fiscal 2005 earnings from continuing operations of $7.80 a share. Analysts expected EPS of $1.28 for the quarter, according to Thomson First Call, and forecast a profit of $7.21 a share for the fiscal year. Lennar gained $1.34, or 2.2%, to $63.41.

Supermarket chain

Kroger

(KR) - Get Report

said fiscal first-quarter earnings rose to $294.3 million, or 40 cents a share, from $262.8 million, or 35 cents a share, a year ago. Sales rose to $17.95 billion from $16.9 billion last year. The Thomson First Call average estimate was for earnings of 35 cents a share on sales of $17.65 billion. Kroger was higher by $1.76, or 10%, to close at $19.45.

Late Monday,

Nucor

(NUE) - Get Report

lowered its second-quarter outlook, saying that earnings will be lower than expected. The company had estimated in April that second-quarter earnings would be $1.95 to $2.15 a share, but now it expects to be near the lower end of that range. Analysts are predicting earnings of $2.08, according to Thomson First Call. The stock fell $2.25, or 4.2%, to $50.68.

Also after the bell Monday, chemicals company

Omnova Solutions

(OMN) - Get Report

posted second-quarter earnings of $3.6 million, or 9 cents a share, up from $300,000, or a penny a share, a year ago. Excluding items, Omnova earned 11 cents a share, compared with analysts' estimates of 4 cents a share. That helped the stock surge 11.6%, up 47 cents to finish at $4.52.

In ratings moves, Prudential Equity upgraded

Cablevision

(CVC)

to neutral weight from underweight, citing the possibility of a raised buyout bid for the company.

On Monday, the family that controls Cablevision said it will take the company private for $7.9 billion, or about $21 a share in cash plus stock in a programming unit. Prudential believes the cash component of the bid will be raised by $3 to $5 a share. As a result, the firm raised its stock-price target to $35 from $26. The stock added 29 cents, or 0.9%, to $32.29.

Auto-parts maker

Delphi

(DPH)

was higher by 3.7% after Merrill Lynch upgraded the stock to neutral from sell. The firm believes that the risk of bankruptcy for Delphi has been reduced, and that the company may do away with its dividend payments after Wednesday's board meeting. Shares added 19 cents to close at $5.28.

Smith Barney upgraded shares of

Cognos

(COGN)

to buy from hold, citing strong demand for the company's application software products. The stock rose $2.57, or 7.5%, to $36.67.

Overseas markets were mostly higher, with London's FTSE 100 up 0.1% to 5079 and Germany's Xetra DAX adding 0.5% to 4608. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei was unchanged overnight at 11,488, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2% to 13,979.

To view Aaron Task's video take on today's market, click here

.